How to Plan a Children’s Party
When you have agreed a budget to spend on the party (if you haven’t done this why not view my ‘How to set a budget for a children’s party), and have an idea of what your child wants, you are ready to start to plan the party. Here are some guidelines on how to plan a party. These are based on my experience as a mum and include some practical suggestions.
What you'll need:
DATE: Set a date for the party. The suggested date has to be close to the actual birthday, but of course weekdays are often hectic for school age children so weekends are often preferable. Make sure you avoid any bank holiday weekends and even school holidays as often people go away or worse forget to attend parties booked. Once the date is set, a time must be considered although this may need to be flexible to accommodate the venue.
VENUE: You need to research local venues. The venue needs to take into consideration your budget and the number of guests. Please be aware that for some of the popular venues you will need to book these well in advance. Suggestions include play areas, village halls, or maybe your own home.
ENTERTAINMENT: Your budget should assist you in determining what you can afford. Also the number and age of children invited to the party should be considered to ensure it is relevant. Choices include magician, children’s entertainer, disco, bouncy castle, games etc.
GUESTS: Decide and agree a gust list. You may have to be firm if your child wants to invite everybody from their class. Ask them to give you names for a small number of guests, then increase this by a few and so on and so on, until you reach the maximum amount of guests you can invite. Don’t forget to remember to include your child or children and family cousins etc that may need to be included. Keep a list of the guests you have invited so that you can cross or tick the names as they accept or decline your invitation and then you will have a record of confirmed guests.
INVITATIONS: You need to send these out a few weeks in advance. You can make your own invitations on the computer and print them off, or buy them from card or party shops or directly from the internet. Don’t forget to include the name and age of your child, the date time (starting and ending times), and venue of the party and RSVP details which is usually a parents name and home and mobile telephone numbers, it is quite often that you will receive a text accepting or declining the invitation.
FOOD & DRINK: This will depend on your venue. Some externally organised events offer their own catering. If you have budget available, outside caterers could be considered. Also the time of the day the party is being held will have an impact. For instance if it is being organised to take place at lunch time or tea time then children will be hungry so sufficient food will need to be available, however if it is in mid afternoon when they have already had their lunch and may have their tea later that day, snacks would be sufficient. Don’t forget drinks, the children will need drinks during the party and at food time. Drink can include fruit squash, fizzy but please don’t forget to include water.
THEME: If a party has a theme it seems to bring it all together. The theme can include the party invitations, party bags, decoration, plates and cups etc – it is up to you how far you go. Some suggestions for themes are: - age related, princess, favourite superhero, favourite Disney character, art n craft, butterflies, bugs, dinosaurs etc. DECORATIONS: These should be planned taking into consideration your theme, age of children, boy or girl etc. You can find lots of ideas on the internet for items you can buy or you can always be cost effective and design some of your own, involving your child is a great way for them to be involved. Decorations can include banners, balloons, posters, signs, table decoration etc.
GAMES: There are lots of different games you can play dependent on your party plans. You can theme these to your party and adapt them for the age of the children. You can find lots of ideas on the internet. Don’t forget to remember some small prizes for any games, which can include sweets or stationery etc from the nearest £1 shop. Don’t forget a few spares in case there are draws, arguments or just upset/sad children who can often be cheered up with the idea of a sweet from the prize bag!
PARTY BAGS: It is not essential to give out party bags at the end of a party, but if you choose to, you can buy packs of party bags quite cheaply from supermarkets or on the internet. The contents can be tailored to the age of the children and if you have any toddlers, I always do them a separate bag as they can’t usually have the smaller toys or lollies etc. Party bags usually contain a few sweets, a piece of cake and one or two smaller toys for example, erasers, gel pens, bangle, bouncy ball, hair bands, pencils, pencil sharpeners, note books, lip gloss, stickers etc. The birthday child gives them out to all children as they leave the party. Sometimes it is a good idea to make a few spare ones for children who attend that had not responded or siblings of children attending that often stay. If a guest is sick on the day and can’t come, then a party bag is often given to the child when they are seen next at school, nursery etc.
CAKE: If you are good at baking cakes, why not make your own and decorate in a style that your child would like with their name and age etc. Decorations, special icing and colours can be easily bought from hobby shops. You can buy a shop bought cake and there are some lovely ones available and you can easily add the age or name of your child with the tubes of writing icing you can buy from a supermarket. Alternatively you can order a cake made especially to your design from a local cake maker, sometimes parents at school are a good source of reference or may make you one. One suggestion I have implemented in the last few years, is to buy or make a less fancy cake separate to the main birthday cake and cut this up and wrap it in serviettes earlier in the day of the party and put a piece in each party bag or even use cup cakes and do the same. Many a party I have been rushing to cut up the birthday cake and wrap it up ready for putting in the party bags and then it is time to go and the bags aren’t ready and cake is everywhere and then there is not enough cake to go around family members i.e., parents, grand-parents, older siblings.
If you plan before the event, then the day will go smoothly and you will feel more relaxed. By involving your child (or children) in the party, they get excited but also enjoy being part of the planning and they can talk about it to their friends (sometimes it is as much fun as the actual day). Have fun!
FILLERS: It doesn’t matter what entertainment is laid on, there is always at least one child who doesn’t enjoy it or take part, so a good idea is to have ‘filler’ ideas. Inflated balloons left on the floor are great for playing catch with or just have some colouring pictures and pens, or paper and crayons available in a separate area.
WIPES: Always have packets of baby wipes with you for those spills and accidents, as well as black bin bags and a dustpan and brush.
HELPERS: It is always underestimated how many things you have to do at once when getting the venue ready, looking after the children and clearing up, so always enlist the help of some friendly family members or even fellow parents. It is always better to have too many hands than not enough to ensure all the children are happy and looked after.
Don't exceed your budget.